The Sad Takeaway from Hurricane Sandy

This is going to sound cynical but I witnessed the exact same thing with support for healthcare reform after SiCKO was released and with the climate crisis after An Inconvenient Truth.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, you can expect a surge in public support for climate legislation -- new regulations on CO2 emissions, calls for more renewable energy, and so forth. But as soon as someone -- hopefully President Obama -- tries to pass anything, public support will crash back to pre-Sandy levels.

The sad fact is that most Americans would rather endure the potential (or reality) for devastation rather than buy hybrid cars and eat less factory beef for dinner. If record heat, freakish weather and monster storms, say nothing of the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf, won't convince Americans to demand action and stick with it, I don't know what will.

  • muselet

    It’s not cynical, but I’d have phrased it a little differently. As soon as corporate profits are jeopardized by legislation, the lobbying/advertising machine will be revved up (fuelled, ironically, by roughly as many dollars as complying with the legislation would cost) and public support will be crashed back to pre-Sandy levels.

    And most Americans can’t quite figure out how it’s possible to spend more money up front and save money overall (neither can Senator (!) Rand Paul, but he can’t figure out how his shoes get tied), so Rs bleating about billions of dollars on green energy makes them nervous.

    The worst part is that the US could reduce carbon emissions significantly without any harm to the economy or the typical American’s lifestyle. A lot of the technology is production-ready or very nearly, awaiting a (relatively) tiny nudge to get them onto the market.


  • Draxiar

    I think what will change the perspective and prompt action about Climate Change is generational. The younger generations will buy hybrid cars and eat less factory beef (among many other things). The younger generations will grow up with groundwork that’s been laid down and continues to grow with green tech, recyclables, renewables and so forth. I’m certainly not saying we should leave the mess to the younger generations nor am I saying that current generations are hopeless…no no…but rather that the younger generations will grow up with and fully embrace an environmentally conscious way of life.

    Will this happen in enough time to avoid climate calamity? I don’t know. I’m hopeful it will. One of the things that keeps me hopeful is my daughter:

    Being an environmental crusader of sorts I take every chance I get to teach my daughter to be mindful of, appreciate, and respect the environment and nature. One day we go to our condoplex playground and someone’s trash bag had spilled (yes, the dumpster is next to the playground…yick) and papers blew into the play area. I looked around and said “Well look at that Hailey, someone doesn’t care about Mother Earth. Let’s pick up these papers before we play.” With an interesting enthusiasm she helped pick up the rubbish and even took care to pick up the tiny little bits in the corners.

    A few days later my wife took her to a bigger park and when she got out of the car she ran toward the playground but stopped upon seeing papers littering the grounds. “Come on everyone! We have to save Mother Earth!” she commands. Lo and behold, the kids stopped playing and helped pick up the trash.

    • muselet

      Tell your daughter some guy on the internet thinks she sounds pretty amazing.


      • Draxiar

        Will do good man.

  • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

    Ashby, in an earlier post, linked to an Onion article basically agreeing with you. Personally I think it’s too late and we’re getting exactly what we deserve. So yes, even with deadly heat wave, drought and accidents devastating parts of our food supply, and repeated drownings of major American cities, we will continue to ignore our contribution to climate change. Maybe it’s because we can’t associate those incidents together. Maybe it’s because the MSM is telling lies to us about climate change and isn’t telling us those incidents are associated together. Maybe it’s just because we’re a bunch of selfish assholes. Probably all three.

  • http://mdblanche.myopenid.com/ mdblanche

    I have to agree with you, mostly. In fact, we’ve already seen this happen with Cap and Trade. The Obama administration’s been pursuing anti-greenhouse gas policies behind the scenes but their dead silence about it on the campaign trail tells you everything about how much of a winner they think it is.

    Meanwhile the rest of the world (this is global warming, remember) isn’t exactly springing into action and people in this country are sitting around waiting for someone else to do something. Well, Al Gore already tried that. He got people talking but we already saw how soft the support he built up was. Nothing’s going to get done waiting for help from Superman and if nobody on the ground is trying to do something more active than complaining, why should anybody else take them seriously when they say we have a crisis?

    My one perverse source of optimism is that support for action based on seeing your hometown wrecked has got to be more solid than support based on seeing a movie.